The candidates to host the America’s Cup in 2017 are down to Bermuda and San Diego. Today, Bermuda Sun deputy editor Don Burgess and San Diego Union-Tribune sports writer Bill Center state their case for why the event should be hosted in their respective homes.
FIVE REASONS WHY 35th AMERICA’S CUP SHOULD BE IN BERMUDA
- THE ARENA: Bermuda’s Great sound is a natural amphitheater. From Dockyard all along Southampton and then back around to Spanish Point, there will be plenty of locations for viewers to watch the racing just offshore. The backdrop of the tiny islets dotting the edge of the Soundwith its lush greenery and pastel-colored houses will provide a more stunning view for the TV audience than San Diego.
- SHORESHIDE FACILITIES: Morgan’s Point is a tabula rasa for the event. The America’s Cup Event Authority can get it built-out to exactly the way they want it for the races. They won’t have to make do with facilities that will have to be modified and still are not perfect. The teams will have the luxury of space never seen before. The Bermuda Tourism Authority calls it the “defining point” of the island’s bid.
- LOCATION: Bermuda is a short 90-minute flight from major East Coast cities of the United States. That’s a plus for the 36% of American living on the East Coast, and, for many other Americans, Bermuda is a shorter distance to travel to than San Diego. As a bonus, Bermuda’s time zone lends it to a greater TV audience of the 742 million people who live in Europe, who will be able to watch it live or make the shorter flight to here over California.
- CONNECTIONS: Russell Coutts and James Spithill know what it takes to win a match race in Bermuda. Coutts is the most successful skipper in the history of the Bermuda Gold Cup with a record seven victories. His last win, in 2004, came at the expense of Spithill, who would go on to win his own title in 2005. They both are well aware of the conditions in Bermuda and can capitalize on that experience to continue their winning ways here.
- GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: Part of the reason San Francisco is out is that they would not have AC35’s back. In Bermuda, the Event Authority already knows the red tape and the hassles will be kept to a minimum. This week Bermuda and the PGA mutually parted ways over the Grand Slam of Golf. The money that would have been spent on the Grand Slam in 2015 andonwards, can now be directed towards staging a commercially successful America’s Cup.
Don Burgess is the deputy editor for the Bermuda Sun newspaper and a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.
FIVE REASONS WHY 35th AMERICA’S CUP SHOULD BE IN SAN DIEGO
- THE ARENA: San Diego Bay is likely the world’s best venue for “arena sailing.” Oracle USA CEO Russell Coutts and skipper James Spithill are on record agreeing on that. Viewer areas and supporting America’s Cup “villages” could easily be constructed along San Diego’s Embarcadero and waterfront piers, Coronado and Harbor Island. The racers would never be out of sight. Better even than San Francisco. Far superior to Bermuda, where the races would have to be offshore.
- SAILING CONDITIONS: The event would be held in June and the first week of July in 2017. Normal conditions call for steady afternoon breezes of 8-12 knots on San Diego Bay, perfect conditions for the 62-foot catamarans that ride on their foils at 7 knots. Not only will the new America’s Cup courses fit perfectly on San Diego Bay, the shape of the area would eliminate the need for the out-of-bounds barriers needed in San Francisco and in Bermuda to keep the boats bunched together. Weather in Bermuda is far more variable.
- SHORESIDE FACILITIES: San Diego already has in place the shore facilities needed by the up to five teams expected to compete in the challenger semifinals and finals and the 35th America’s Cup. San Diego hosted larger fleets for the RC-44 championships in 2011 and the America’s Cup World Series event in 2012 without any problems. The Broadway and B Street Piers would easily house the teams and the media with no new construction required. The organization to run the event is also already in place.
- HISTORY: San Diego has had an involvement in the America’s Cup since 1967. It hosted three defenses in 1988, 1992 and 1995 when the protocol called for the races to be sailed far offshore. Skipper Dennis Conner won the America’s Cup for San Diego Yacht Club in 1987 off Fremantle, Western Australia. Plus, San Diego annually stages more major races than any other area in the world. The skilled personnel needed to administer an event such as the America’s Cup is in place.
- CONNECTIONS: The official defender of the America’s Cup (Golden Gate Yacht Club) is in California, not Bermuda. There is no precedent for a U.S. defender to host a defense in a foreign land. San Diego already has strong ties to the defending Oracle USA organization, which trained in San Diego for almost two years while preparing for its successful challenge in 2010.
Bill Center is a veteran sportswriter for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1967.